Another article found by Joe Hendry of Mess Media
Messengers dodge trafficâ€”and perilâ€”in the streets of Chicago
By Leonor Vivanco
Red Eye, July 8, 2008
They are the road warriors of Chicago streets.
Bike messengers slice through traffic, clashing with drivers, battling buses, sometimes yelling at cabbies and dodging pedestrians who dare to cross their path. Broken bones and scars are their badges of honor. Their armor: simple, speedy bicycles, messenger bags large enough to hold a 30-pack of beer, cargo straps to carry boxes, dispatch radios and, most important of all, helmets.
More than 300 bike messengers in Chicago work year-round to accomplish one important mission: delivering packages as safely and quickly as possible. They make an estimated 1.1 million deliveries a year, mostly downtown, according to the city’s 2015 Bike Plan, which was implemented in 2006. The more runs they make, the more money they earn.
But, as they buzz along city streets, bike messengers ride a fine line between adventure and risk. Some drivers and pedestrians who share the road see messengers as reckless riders who follow their own set of rules.
Messengers admit to breaking traffic laws and riding aggressively.
“A lot of times it’s very likely the messenger who just broke the traffic law you saw is delivering a document that directly affects your life,” said Augie Montes, 34, co-owner of 4 Star Courier Collective and a bike messenger for eight years.
“It’s not really about trying to be the biggest badass downtown. It’s trying to get the job done and trying not to break your neck in the process,” he said.
The job has its occupational hazardsâ€”including the risk of injury or even death.
More than 6,000 crashes between bicycles and motor vehicles were reported in Chicago between 2001 and 2005, with 30 bicyclists killed, according to the city’s Transportation Department.
City officials are trying to make roads safer for all cyclists. In March, the City Council approved fines ranging from $150 to $500 for certain driving violations, including turning left or right in front of a bicyclist, passing a bicyclist with less than three feet of space, opening a vehicle door into the path of a bicyclist, and parking in a bicycle lane.
Some bike messengers doubt the new laws will be enforced. Even so, the fines are a positive step, said Amy Polcaster, 20, of Humboldt Park.
“It sends a message there are bikers in Chicago. We’re not trying to hurt anybody, but we’re here, and we’d like a little room in the street,” said Polcaster, who delivers food for Freshii catering on her bike, often hauling 50 sandwiches and 50 cans of pop to businesses.
Even though the job can be dangerous, bike messengers brave blistering cold winters, wet springs and humid summers because they say they love the job.
“You don’t have someone looking over your shoulder. You’re not stuck in a cubicle all day,” said Rene Cudal, 40, a messenger for 13 years who lives in Noble Square and a co-owner of 4 Star Courier Collective.
On an average day, a bike messenger makes roughly 30 deliveries and clocks at least 30 miles, messengers say. They can take home an average of $100 a day, Cudal said. Some messenger companies pay commission per delivery, while others pay an hourly wage plus commission.
The messengers defend their job, saying it’s not an easy one. Instead, it’s a balancing act in a race against time.
“A lot of people do not really realize how hard it is. [They think] ‘Oh, you’re just riding your bike,’ ” Cudal said. “But let’s see you cut through this traffic and get to North Avenue [from Superior and Wells Streets] in seven minutes.”
The need for speed
Bike messengers’ skills will be put to the test Labor Day weekend in the 11th annual North American Cycle Courier Championship in Chicago. The sanctioned event, which crowns a working bike messenger in North America as the winner, will be held on a closed course in Garfield Park, where checkpoints and assigned pick-up and drop-off locations simulate a day of work.
Old school protest on Friday…”Let Him Eat Shit.”
Thanks to the success of the Hellcat, the all woman’s alleycat in NYC,
and what do you think of?
Death deifying feats of acrobatics?
Thinkbikes.com wanted a shout out. They are a mountain bike stunt team available in the UK for all types of events including weddings, bar mitzvah’s and more…they’ll even train you in the technical mastery of handling your ride to do things like this:
Perhaps its squid and the crew at cyclehawk.
They’ve got a new trailer for a tv show.
I took a ride around Manhattan tonight for a little exercise. It was such a beautiful night, with the warm air. I finally got to see those waterfalls at night and I have to say I was pretty impressed.
I had no idea you could get that close to them.
My one little burst of physical fitness has inspired me to train for my first century.
September 7th. NYC Century Bike Tour
So here are the results of Friday’s 4th of July alleycat.
20 racers, 16 checkpoints.
The race started at: 2:45pm (the numbers located on the right are the finishing times)
Here is a helmet camera from Joao.
and some pictures:
Congratulations to Dan Chabanov and Bianca, first place male, and female…true patriots.
So if your into the Tour De France and don’t have cable, but can get online, like me…there are a few options for viewing.
First is the
Thor Hushovd, from Norway, winning stage 2 today.
Another good source for live feeds is: cyclingfans.com
and for print news: velonews.com
if you want maps of each stage you can go to this google maps page
For viewing in NYC, the Lakeside Lounge is airing coverage on Versus, located at 126 Ave. B. between 10th and 11th st.
I believe it is coverage during happy hour, starting when they open around 4:00pm. So for all of you who get off work in time or aren’t working…this works out great for you. At least it shows they are a cycling friendly bar.
Personally I prefer downloading coverage of ITVN broadcasts of daily recaps. Its a one hour show on British TV, that has just enough of the stages along with insightful reporting and color commentary. Hopefully it will be available on torrent sites like
Its generally a day late, so if you can keep you head out of the headlines and wait, its worth it.